Michael L. Forte

Michael L. Forte

Tampa Office

813.472.7521 phone 813.221.4752 fax mforte@rumberger.com

Download vCard

Michael Forte practices in the areas of casualty defense, retail and hospitality and product liability. He also has significant experience litigating construction defect, and Section 1983 matters.

Michael's retail and hospitality clients include national retailers and property management companies. He and his team were recognized in 2012 as Sears Holdings Corporation's "Go-To Firm for Litigation" in a survey conducted by American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel magazines. He has first-chaired trials in Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Polk Counties.

On many occasions, Michael has prevailed on summary judgment, obviating the need for a trial. One such case was Hall v. Sunjoy Industries Group, Inc., 764 F. Supp. 2d 1297 (M.D. Fla. 2011), which involved injuries from an allegedly defective product displayed within a retail store. The Hall opinion has been cited by more than 130 other courts and mentioned in more than 20 secondary sources.

Michael has defended law enforcement officers in both federal and state courts in cases involving 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 allegations and state law claims.  In Henry v. Livingston, 2014 WL 5823229 (M.D. Fla. 2014), Michael defended two police officers in an issue of first impression within the Eleventh Circuit, which is whether the estoppel doctrine in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) applies to minor plaintiffs. The court agreed with Michael that the Heck doctrine applies to minors, and went on to dismiss the false arrest claims against the officers on that basis.


  • Stetson University, College of Law, J.D., cum laude, 2002,
  • University of Florida, B.A., English and Political Science, high honors, 1999,


  • Named a "40 under 40 Up & Comer" by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2014
  • Florida Defense Lawyers Association Trial Advocate Quarterly Award, 2014
  • AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star, Personal Injury Defense-General, 2009-2017

Notable Cases

  • Dorman v. Mid-State Plumbing, Inc. and Gregory Taylor
  • Jennifer Anderson v. Amy Schroth and Patricia Weimer
  • Dorman v. Mid-State Plumbing, Inc.,
  • Thorne v. Temples
  • Messing v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc.
  • Ciporkin v. Irwin Contracting, Inc. v. Mark 1 Contracting, Inc.
  • Austin v. Sears Home Improvement Products, Inc.

Professional & Civic Activities

  • Risk Insurance Management Society, Executive Board Member
  • Florida Defense Lawyers Association, Trial Advocate Quarterly Chair of Editorial Board
  • The Florida Bar
    • Florida Bar Journal, Past Editorial Board Member
    • Thirteenth Circuit Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee A, Past Chairperson
    • Small Claims Rules Committee, Past Member
    • Trial Lawyers Section
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association
    • Young Lawers Division Professionalism and Ethics Committee, Past Member 
    • Trial Lawyers Section

Articles & Presentations

  • Author, "Combating Permanency Without a Defense Medical Expert," Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1, Winter 2018
  • Co-Presenter, "Defense Strategies Giving You the Most Bang for Your Buck," Claims Education Conference, May 2018, New Orleans
  • Author, "Removal: An Important Defense Tool in U.S. Lawsuits against Canadians," Ontario Insurance Adjusters Association, Without Prejudice, September 2017
  • Co-Author, "Punitive Damages: When Are They Available in Premises Liability Lawsuits?," Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 33. No.1, Winter 2014
  • Presenter, "Public Records and Sunshine Law," Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association, September 2014
  • Co-Author, “Rodriguez v. Miami-Dade County: The Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Certiorari Review in Sovereign Immunity Cases," Florida Bar Journal, Vol. 88, No. 1, January 2014
  • Author, “Admissibility of High-low Agreements in Multi-defendant Litigation,” Florida Bar Journal, Vol. 87, No. 1, November 2013